The Mona Lisa Sisters

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Chapter 17

I’m terrified. I’ve lost my entire family in a matter of months. What will become of me if I lose the girls? I don’t know how it could happen so fast, but I love Katie and Ada Mae as if they were my own. I cannot, I will not, lose them.

“Girls, I have something important that I would like to talk with you about. Please put your arithmetic work aside.” Ada Mae is more than happy to let her studies wait. She drops her work, and comes to sit beside me on the bed. Katie is hesitant. I don’t know if it is because she wants to finish her assignment or if she is worried about having a serious conversation. I learn it is a little of both.

“Should we finish our assignments first Miss Lura?”

“No Katie. After we talk, you can finish up before we go to dinner.” Both girls are next to me on the bed. This is going to be harder than I imagined. My breath comes in gasps. I’m going to hyperventilate and pass out. I can’t stop myself. My mind is rushing. My breath comes fast. What if they hate me and want nothing to do with me?

Katie grabs my arm, her lips are trembling, as she whispers, “Miss Lura are you okay? You’re scaring me.”

Ada Mae, must be thinking the same thing, she squeezes my arm as she almost screams, “Miss Lura.”

I take a deep breath as I try to control my dread. I’m upsetting the girls. I can’t go on like this. I must appear calm. My mind is another matter. I can feel my heartbeat beating like a drum. I control my appearance and finally speak. “I’m sorry girls. I’m going to be alright.” They don’t look like the believe me, but at least they loosen their grips on my arm.

Katie asks, “Do you want some water?”

“Please.” I don’t want any water but the delay while she gets it, gives me time to regain my composure. I find I must release a tight grip on Mother’s pendant before I can take a few swallows and hand the glass back to Katie. “Thank you dear, the water helps.” Both girls return to the bed and link their arms in mine. Strangely, the terror is gone. I know that regardless of their decision, I will survive.

“I want to make sure of something. We’ve talked about it before, but I want to ask again.” They give me a questioning look. “It is about your father.” I give them a moment before I go on. “I told you I would be honored if he is buried at my home. Is that something you want or would you like to see him buried elsewhere?”

Ada Mae says, “Katie, you tell Miss Lura what we want.”

“Miss Lura, we talked to God. He told us to bury father with mama. She’s in Boston. If you can help us, that’s what father would want.”

“That is wonderful. Yes, I will help you. Your father should be buried with your mother.”

The girls both squeeze me as they put their heads on my shoulders and say, “Thank you Miss Lura.”

“There is something else. I want to ask you about your family. Does your father have any other relatives?

Ada Mae said, “No. He told us his father was killed in Ireland and that his mother died of the fever. He didn’t have any brothers or sisters, nobody else.” I’m relieved to hear this, but I have to ask about their mother.

Katie tells me, “Mother was an orphan. Father told us she didn’t have any family except us.” After a pause, she asks, “Why do you want to know about mama and father Miss Lura?”

Here it is, time to face them. I say a silent prayer. “Dear God please hear my plea. I love these children; please let them love me back.” I’m tempted to add that I’ve suffered enough, but one doesn’t bargain with God, he knows what is best.

“Do you girls know what it means to be adopted?”

Katie gives me one of those looks that makes one think they are a fool. “Yes we do. Our friend Olivia’s mother and father died of the pox. She didn’t have any other family. They put her in the orphanage with other children who didn’t have a family.”

At this point, Ada Mae takes over. “After Olivia was there a long time, Mr. Wilson, the baker, and his wife brought her home. Olivia told us she was their little girl.”

Katie adds, “I asked her how she could be their little girl if her mama and father had her first. She told us, “They adopted me. Now I’m Olivia Wilson.” She wasn’t very happy, they made her work all day and didn’t let her go to school like their other daughter did.”

“I don’t think being adopted is a good thing, Miss Lura.” Ada Mae said. The terror takes hold of me once again. This time I control it.

Katie tugs at my arm to get my attention. I look at her. “Why are you asking us about being adopted?”

“Girls, not everyone who adopts a child or children does it to get free work. Most people adopt children because they love them and want make them happy. Do you believe that?”

“If you tell us something Miss Lura, we know you don’t lie.” I could hug Katie to death, I keep my composure.

“I want to ask you girls a question; I love you and want to adopt you if you let me.” I can’t speak. I choke up. It is all I can do to keep from crying.

Katie is the first to speak. “Ada Mae and I want to talk. May we please go into the bathroom?”

“Of course darlings. You don’t have to answer me right now.” The girls go into the bathroom and shut the door. The door is thin and the cabin is small. I can hear sounds but cannot make out what they are saying. After a few minutes, I hear crying. I want to rush to them and comfort them, but I sit and pray. Praying doesn’t seem to be working because I can tell both girls are crying. It seems an eternity before their crying stops. I’m staring at the clock. It has only been ten minutes. I can’t keep my eyes off of the clock. “Oh God, what are they saying?”

At thirteen minutes, the door opens and the girls walk into the stateroom. They stop about five feet from me. There is an awkward moment as their faces still red and wet from crying face down at the floor. Then, miracle of miracles, they look up and the sadness is replaced with smiles as they rush forward, and in a very unlady like manner, jump onto me.

I can’t tell which is speaking, both are. “Yes Miss Lura, we love you. We want you to adopt us and be our new mama.” The girls kiss and hug me. I’m crying. I can’t stop I’m so happy. Any thought of finishing their studies evaporates as we hug and kiss, and cry, and laugh.

I know that father, mother, and Walter would approve and be happy for me.

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